Saturday, August 23, 2008
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Friday continued where Thursday left off - dull overcast and not beach weather. In desperation to entertain the now bored kids we decided to go to a place we had seen on our journey in. The place in question had go-carting and jet-skis. On arrival we determined that go-karts were not an option due to the lack of safety precautions so jet-skis it had to be. The children had 8 minutes of fun blasting round a small course, Thomas managing to easily overtake Hannah - women drivers!! On return to base there was a glimmer of sun so we headed to the beach, a short lived visit as the wind was blowing the sand too much for even our industrial strength windbreak. Plan B involved going to the pool which was fine until the sun got lost behind a bloody massive cloud. Saturday - Hannah and I set off early for the water park leaving the others in bed. Unbelievably the park was quiet so we managed to go on all the rides at least once without queuing. We had to leave fairly early as a combination of little sun and cold water spoiled the fun. Continued the day with a trip into Canet for an ice cream. The idiot weather forecasters predict a good day tomorrow but who knows...
Friday, August 15, 2008
Wednesday started nicely and we ventured off to the beach - not traveling any lighter in fact we now have two infated lilos. By lunchtime the cloud had moved in and we decided to leave and head for Collioure a little way down the coast. We had been told that parking was not good but thought we would give it a try anyway. After a pleasant drive we approached the medieval port and soon realised that the ancient town planners had failed to allow for the tens of thousands of daily visitors. Cars were abandoned (French style of parking) at the roadside on the entrance and exit road. Fortunately the road did take us right through the centre of the town and passed the picturesque harbour. It was a shame we couldn't actually get out! Not to be put off we headed further south through Port Vendres a working industrial fishing town and onto Banylus another pretty resort town - where we couldn't park either. Thursday we started at the pool but again the cloud drifted off the Pyrenees canceling any sunbathing activities. Thomas had been studying the guidebook and the contingency plan was to head for Ceret - south west of us. After about an hours drive we actually managed to park and spent the afternoon exploring the busy little town. There is a medieval walled old town which spills into the newer more vibrant areas with shops and open air cafes. The town was once inhabited by Picasso and other famous artists so the place is now a haunt for arty-farty types with too much time on their hands. I am only jealous! Anyway I think we have found our new favorite French Town. In the evening there was the annual firework display marking the start of some Catalan festival. Twenty minutes of excellent fireworks only slightly dampened by a light shower of rain. Let's hope the weather improves tomorrow.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
We made it to the beach. It amuses me how the cool French travel so lightly, a small towel each, a miniscule brolly that looks like it should be on a child’s pram, a towel each and maybe a small bag with a drink and a book or newspaper. Not us... In true British spirit we don't just go to the beach we invade. A massive traditional windbreak, not a poncy beach shelter, two big tartan picnic blankets, massive patio umbrella, buckets, spades, cool box, huge beach towels, flask of coffee, a few cold beers, rolls and of course a couple of bags of crisps. Now that's what I call style. The weather wasn't so good on Monday, not raining just a little overcast so we decided to head for Villefranche. This has to be one of my favorite towns - it is a fantastically preserved walled medieval city. Built originally in an attempt to keep the Spanish out it is now a very popular tourist spot. Unfortunately the place had more French tourists than Canterbury on a Saturday afternoon. We also had to queue in the bakers to get our lunch. Tuesday the sun is back out and another day spent around the pool. Whilst trying to keep my eyes open I recognised someone out of the corner of my eye. It was an old friend from school's sister - they arrived here today and had reserved the sun loungers next to us - small world.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
The last couple of days seem to have drifted away, the weather has been incredible and we have done very little. The most we have managed during the day has been a walk to the pool. On day one Thomas read a whole book - that's how much we moved. Hannah made friends with a girl of about her age yesterday we hoped she had found her holiday buddy. Sadly it was her last day so the friendship was short lived. On Friday night we went to the on site restaurant which was pretty awful - and not cheap. Everything does seem much more expensive this year. I know the French are supposed to be good at food but I don't see too much evidence of it. The raw materials available in the supermarkets and shops are certainly better than ours but what we see in the tourist outlets doesn't reflect this quality. We have been to the pool today and have just had a leisurely lunch. We are off to the beach this afternoon and plan a trip into Canet tonight. We did attempt this last night but the little ferry did not appear to be running - probably on strike in support of the French farmers!!
Friday, August 08, 2008
After a smooth trip to the docks - well what else would you expect? - we boarded the ferry and made our way to the Club lounge. A perfect day for a crossing the most difficult decision was tea or coffee - the next major problem was trying to stay awake. Close to us a couple of young girls were starting to strike up a friendship. they stood looking out of the forward facing port holes and one said, "Are you going to France?" it made me smile anyway. On to the French road system, a much beter picture than last year we cautiously approached our first peage booth and headed for the 'reserved' lane. After last year's horrendous trip we had noticed how easily and quickly cars with the toll tokens got through. I made it my mission to try and get hold of one of the Liber-t tokens prior to this years journey. You can order on line for a 30 Euro deposit and a 2 Euro charge for each calendar month that you use the thing. Each toll you pass through then gets billed to your payment card. We drove closer to the barrier and the little plasic box stuck to the inside of the windscreen beeped reassuringly and the barrier lifted. I now look forward to my chace to queue jump!! After a comfortable stop in Clermot-Ferrand we set off again, our intention to stop at the Milau Brige. After a couple of hours driving we followed the signs for the Milau Aire and drove into the car park of the visitor centre. A van was trying to turn around and some other cars were blocking the path. I saw the opportunity to dart passed the jam but sadly ended up on the exit road. Unfortunately this was a single concrete sided carrigeway with opportunity to stop or turn around. Feeling a complete plonker we rejoined the auto-route and will have to visit the bridge on our return. We safely arrived at Canet after a five hour journey and it felt like home from home. Within an hour the car was un-packed the kids had hired bikes (160 Euro!!) and the fridge was stocked with beer and wine.